Wednesday, August 25, 2010

England and the Papacy

As Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Scotland and England draws near, there are some interesting announcements. This is just the second visit of a reigning pope to England and the first State Visit of the Pope as head of the Vatican City-State. When he meets Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland, he will be, as The Telegraph notes, the "honoured guest of the British people." The editorial goes on to ask: "But will he be honoured--or will his enemies in public life use the opportunity to humiliate him?" The editorial concludes:

This state invitation does not require Anglicans and other Christians to recognise papal authority. But, as the Archbishop of Canterbury recognises, if Benedict XVI is greeted with hostility and manufactured scandals, then British Christianity as a whole will be weakened. And, in the eyes of hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world, our national reputation will be damaged. The Pope's visit is more than a great event for Catholics: it is a test of Britain's professionalism, hospitality, tolerance and maturity.

In the meantime, the Vatican has issued the official schedule; afternoon free timess have been identfied as rest or nap periods for the octogenarian pontiff, which have led to some smutty comments in on-line newspaper stories (demonstrating some failure in maturity, at least).

On the other hand, the Birmingham Oratory plans several special events around the celebration of Newman's beatification, including a conference with presentations by great Newman biographers (Fr. Ian Ker, Dr. William Oddie and Fr. Keith Beaumont), a performance of Elgar's oratorio based on Newman's "Dream of Gerontius", exhibitions, solemn vespers, Mass of Thanksgiving, and a pilgrimage to Littlemore!

When you read Newman's lectures on The Present Position of Catholics in England--even in an excerpt like this (and it is notably hard to excerpt Newman; one usually ends up with pages or more of "excerpts")--it's clear their position has not improved that much; instead of Protestants being the "enemy", as The Telegraph editorial comments, it's unbelievers or secularists, who cannot tolerate the claims of religion. Just substitute those words when Newman uses the word Protestants:

The duty of the Catholic Church is to preach to the world; and her promise and prerogative is success in preaching; but this is a subject which has not come into the scope of our discussions in this place. What I have been saying has no direct reference to any such end. I have not urged it on you, as I well might, in the case of those who, like you, love their religion so well that they wish others to enjoy the benefit of it with them. What I have said, however, does not presuppose this; it has not sprung out of any duty that we have of extending the limits of the Catholic pale; it would not have been superseded, if we had no such duty. I have not been aiming at the conversion of any persons, who are not Catholics, who have heard me: I have not been defending Catholic, or attacking Protestant doctrines, except indirectly and incidentally. The condition or hypothesis with which I have been entering into the discussion has been the present anti-Catholic agitation; and my object has been that of self-defence with reference to it. In the present state of things Catholics must, from the mere instinct of self-preservation, look about them; they are assailed by a very formidable party, or power, as I should rather call it, in this country, by its Protestantism. In the Protestantism of the country I do not include, of course, all who are not Catholics. By Protestants I mean the heirs of the Traditions of Elizabeth; I mean the country gentlemen, the Whig political party, the Church Establishment, and the Wesleyan Conference. I cannot over-estimate their power: they and their principles are established: yet I should be unjust, on the other hand, to all classes in the community if I made this Elizabethan Protestantism synonymous with the mind and the philosophy of the whole country. However, it is a tremendous power, and we are menaced by it; this is the condition of things . . .

Therefore, we should not be surprised of this last bit of news:

Catholic adoption agencies may no longer function in England and Wales as Catholic adoption agencies, because they place babies and children only with married heterosexual couples.

For those of use who are not going to England for the visit, there is this good news: EWTN will cover the events live and will have other special programming.


  1. I'm thinking we are entering a very dark time in the world indeed. Newman prophetically saw it coming!


  2. His prophetic word on what liberalism in religion would mean for our culture certainly indicates that you are correct, Anonymous!